cross posted at Shelfinflicted
I can find no fault with Cloud Atlas.
Because of that I have had a difficult time coming up with this review. This book could have gone all wrong, its premise could have easily tipped this book over the edge into gimmick but David Mitchell pulled this off seamlessly. It blows my mind.
This book is six very different stories, occurring in different time periods that on the surface have nothing to do with each other. Yet they have everything to do with each other.
In 1850, a lawyer crosses the pacific during which he falls seriously ill and is treated by a doctor on board with unusual methods.
In 1931 a young composer of questionable morals works his way into the house of an old, formerly great composer who, due to late stage syphilis has lost his edge. During his time there he writes his masterpiece.
In 1975 an ambitious reporter working for a gossip rag goes after a big story that makes her a target.
Present day, an older gentleman working in publishing finally finds success, after working his entire life, with a book with ties criminal types. He soon finds trouble as well. In an attempt to find a safe place to lie low he ends up in a retirement home against his will.
In the near future, people are cloned and are genetically engineered for slave labor. They are called fabricants, and one fabricant, Sonmi 451 starts to think outside of the box. When she does all hell breaks loose.
Far into the future, we find Zachry living in Hawaii just as people did in the distant past, in tribes and in huts and with zero technology. Language itself is even breaking down. He meets a young woman that shows up on a ship that still has technology.
Zachry’s story is the center of the book and is the only one that is told completely without a break. All the rest are told up to a certain point and then they break and start with the next story in order. Once we hear Zachry’s tale we move backwards and hear the conclusion to the earlier stories to end up where we started, on the ship crossing the Pacific. It’s an onion.
All of these stories could have been written by different authors. You have an historical novel, a crime mystery, a comedy, a sci fi and an apocalyptic novel all mashed up and connected.